Before You Go to Your Signing Appointment [Updated]

EDITORS NOTE: With the introduction of CFPB’s Loan Estimate and Closing Estimate, some of the information below may not apply if your loan application was originated October 3, 2015 or later as the 2010 Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 Settlement Statement have been retired. Watch for an updated post soon!  Click here for the updated post.

When I originally wrote this post back in January 2007, we didn’t have the Good Faith Estimate that HUD created and implemented in 2010. Although this GFE has caused greater confusion and has overall been a failure (a new version is should be available in 2012), the one positive feature about the 2010 GFE is that lenders are bound by what they quoted on their last Good Faith and page three of the HUD-1 Settlement Statement clearly compares what was quoted by the Mortgage Originator and what the final fee at signing is. In addition, there are certain tolerances that limit how much more a fee at closing can be for some of the lender fees.

It’s fun to revisit and dust off old articles that I’ve written. I hope you find these tips beneficial for when you attend your signing appointment for your refinance or purchase. NOTE: I only help people with their mortgage needs for homes located in Washington state, so if you’re not buying or refinancing a home in Washington, some of this information may not apply to you.

1. Obtain a copy of your estimated HUD-1 Settlement Statement at least 1 day before closing.  Your estimated HUD-1 Settlement Statement discloses all the fees that are involved in the transaction. Instead of waiting to see this document at your signing appointment (along with the stack of other documents you’ll be signing) have the escrow officer email this to you 1-2 days before signing. Sometimes that can be a little tricky because there are times when loan docs are arriving at escrow hours before your signing appointment. In order to improve your odds of getting a copy of this document before signing, notify your mortgage originator and escrow officer well in advance that you would like to a copy of your HUD 1-2 days before signing.

2. Bring your Mortgage Originators contact information. When your signing appointment is set, contact your mortgage originator to find out if they will be available during your signing and how is the best way you can reach them should you have any questions. Some signers (not all are escrow officers) are better at answering questions than others. If you have questions about the documents you are signing, you can pause the signing and call your mortgage originator. There are times I’ve attended signings for clients, especially first time home buyers, when location and schedule permits. I always try to be available to answer any questions that may arise during a clients signing.

3. Bring a cashier’s check or make arrangements to wire funds for closing.  A good lender will do everything in their power to provide escrow with instructions in a timely manner so that they can, in turn, give you the dollar amount required as soon as possible.  Sometimes, you may only get a day or two of notice before escrow contacts you with this information.   The reason this can occur so late in the process is because all the loan documents have to be prepared by the lender and are then delivered to the escrow company with our instructions.   The escrow company then creates a HUD-1 Settlement Statement which determines exactly how much funds you need to bring to closing.    When you are told the amount, you need to obtain a cashier’s check payable to the escrow company and bring it with you to the closing appointment.   A personal check or cash is a no-no.  NOTE:  If you are considering wiring funds to the escrow company, please contact them in advance to discuss this process.

4.  Bring a copy of your Good Faith Estimate.   You will want to compare it to the Estimated HUD-1 Settlement Statement that will be presented to you at the signing. Hopefully, the Escrow Officer has provided your Loan Originator a copy of the HUD in advance for them to review it prior to your appointment.  NOTE: Although I mentioned in the intro above that the 2010 GFE compares the last quoted with the HUD-1, it’s probably not a bad idea to bring the last GFE that you received from the mortgage originator to make sure it’s the correct one to be used at signing.  SIDE-NOTE: Currently GFE’s can only be reissued with a bona-fide “changed circumstance”.

5.  Bring your current driver’s license.  The notary must see them for proof you are you!  Some may require two forms of identity. Contact your escrow officer to see what they require.

4.  Bring anything else that the escrow company or lender request.  Sometimes the lender may need you to bring follow up documentation to closing (such as original signed documents, most recent paystub, etc.).

6.  Bring directions to the escrow company.   Be sure to get specific directions to the escrow company from the escrow company (or visit  Please be on time.  Escrow companies are often very busy and are generally on time.

7.  Plan on your signing taking approximately 45 – 60 minutes.  If you would like to have more time to read your documents, or to have an attorney review them for you, ask your lender in advance so they can accommodate having a copy of your loan documents available to you in advance.  Your loan package is about an inch of paper.   If you want to read it word for word, you should obtain a copy in advance.

8. Sign your documents as your names appear.   Sign your name within the County’s required borders for recordings.  This avoids last minute corrections or delays in your closing.   You may want to do some hand exercises before signing (just teasing—well, kind of). Do sign your name exactly as it appears on the loan documents – if there’s a middle initial, sign with it. If you sign your name differently throughout the loan package, you may have the joy of re-signing your loan documents. NOTE: I’ve only had this happen once and this person signed her name several different ways throughout her final documents. As a result, she had to sign again and her closing was delayed.  There is no way an investor would have accepted legal documents with varying signatures.  If you have a preference with how you want your name to appear on the loan docs, you need to express this at the beginning of the loan process.

King County Recording OfficeAfter signing your documents, escrow sends the original required documents to the title company who, after reviewing, delivers them to the County where the property is located.   With our company, the funding department also reviews the loan documents and verifies all conditions are met. At this point, the lender coordinates with the escrow company to release the funds and to record the documents on the scheduled day for closing. This is a photo of the King County Recording Department’s “recorders closet” for title companies and others who do recordings in masses.

Signing and funding (closing) typically do no take place on the same day.  Typically the latest I like my clients to sign is two days before closing with a purchase (sometimes it may wind up being the day before).  With a refinance for an owner occupied property, signing takes place about five days before closing because of a mandatory three day waiting period before the loan can close. The three days are “postal days” and sometimes may cause locks to have to be extended, hopefully one day Congress will revise this outdated guideline.

Once your transaction is closed, you may be notified by your real estate agent, escrow officer, mortgage originator or all the above.  Congrats!


  1. Actually, we made the mistake of signing differently on a couple pages (omitting middle initial, etc.), but there was an “Affidavit of Identity” in the pack in which myself-with-middle-name declared myself-with-middle-initial and myself-with-no-middle-anything to be the same person, me. Very convenient.

    They still encouraged consistency, though. 🙂

  2. when your signing package is returned to the lender, it’s reviewed and they decide if there are too many discrepancies or if it’s acceptable.

    I once has a borrower sign her name about 14 different ways, including drawing a picture of kitty cat on her documents. She wasn’t very happy when she had to resign her loan docs. What was amazing to me is that the escrow officer allowed her to do this. A good EO will be very clear with how important consistency is.

  3. Great info, Rhonda! I hope you will send this out to every buyer I refer to you … maybe send it a few times!! 🙂

  4. Why does it take HUD so long to close? We signed Thursday. Loan was funded by Friday. It’s end of day Monday and we have heard nothing. And no promise to hear anything soon. We’ve turned over all our money and info and gotten no house in return so far…which is messing up all our plans. Especially since this is a construction loan and contractor cannot start work as intended and we cannot put in notice at current home that we are moving, all of which will incur unanticipated additional expenses.

    • Allison, I would assume that if your loan is funded that the transaction is closed??? At least, that’s how it works in Washington state. I suggest you contact your Real Estate Agent and the Escrow Officer on your transaction to find out what’s going on. Good luck!


  1. […] EDITOR'S NOTE: This post has been updated. Click here to read the most current version. […]

  2. […] This will be the third version of this post since I started writing The Mortgage Porter in late 2009. Things have overall changed for the better for consumers when it comes to the closing procedure. Last month, two new disclosures, the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure, were introduced replacing the Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 Settlement Statement effective for loan applications dated October 3, 2015 and after. This post applies to loans originated after October 3, 2015. If your loan application is dated prior to October 3, 2015, you should refer to this post instead. […]

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